14 November 2007
BOLTON, James (c.1733-1799). Harmonia Ruralis; or, an Essay towards a Natural History of British Song Birds. Stannary and London: for the Author, 1794-1796.
2 parts in one volume, 4° (344 x 242mm). Hand-coloured etched frontispiece and 80 hand-coloured etched plates by Bolton. Contemporary green half morocco, marbled edges (rebacked, old spine laid down). Provenance: occasional pencil annotations, reputedly by the author -- Thomas Adam (armorial bookplate) -- Kathleen Adam (presentation inscription from her father, dated 1917).
A FINE LARGE COPY OF THE FIRST EDITION, coloured issue, of the chief ornithological work by Bolton. The book elaborates on Eleazar Albin's The Natural History of English Song Birds (1737), which focused mainly on how to catch and train singing birds suitable to be kept in cages. Bolton's work is based on his observations of the birds in their natural habitats, as well as detailed inspection of the individual birds he drew. According to Coues, "This is perhaps the most ornate, or luxurious, work on British Song Birds of the last century, and it ought to remain in some sort a 'standard' treatise." A loosely-inserted typed note provides evidence that the pencil annotations in this copy are by the author himself, a close friend of the Adam family; the note also gives details of the Adam family history. Nissen IVB 115; Ellis/Mengel 308 ("rather rare"); Fine Bird Books p. 60.
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